Protective Hairstyle Types For Natural Hair With 30 Celebrity Inspirations

Give your natural hair the protection and oomph it needs!


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What is a protective hairstyle?

Protective hairstyles are those styles that help keep the natural hair protected from stressors such as harsh weather conditions, knots and tangles, over manipulation and over styling from heated tools. These factors can seriously cause hair damage, which can lead to hair being brittle and prone to breakage. Dry, dull and frizzy hair with split ends can be hard to style, as most of you know.

It’s essential to keep your hair styled protectively, with the hair ends tucked away out of harm’s way, as these are the most delicate parts of the hair. Frequent washing, conditioning, detangling and styling often results to constant tugging on your hair, making it weaker. Keeping your hair ends protected makes them less prone to manipulation and being caught or snagged on clothing or our accessories. With your hair styled in a protective way, you can ensure optimum health and growth for your hair.

That being said, protective hairstyles are an important part of having a healthy hair care regimen and if you have natural hair, you should have a few styles in your rotation for every season. Finding the right go-to protective styles that work for you might be a trial-and-error for a time, but once you’ve established what works and styles well for you, you can’t go wrong in the hair style department!

Types of Protective Hairstyles:

1. Braids

One of the most popular and easiest protective hairstyles to do, braids can be plaits formed all over to fall loosely over the shoulders or can be plaited together in sections along the scalp for minimal hair movement. They effectively protect your hair ends from stressors such as over manipulation, snagging and harsh environment.

Popular braid styles include box braids, cornrows, fishtail braids, knotless braids, Fulani braids, crochet braids and Dutch braids, to name a few!

Braids Protective Hairstyle | Beauty Stock /

2. Twists

Twists are the ideal, low-maintenance protective hairstyles as they also help lock in moisture in the hair longer while keeping it free from tangles. The twist features two sections of the hair twisted around together to the hair ends. Sections range from small twists to larger, chunky ones, which you can leave in for weeks. The twist style also works well in combination with other protective types.

Popular twist styles include the Senegalese twist, the Havana twists, Marley twist, two-strand, three-strand, goddess locs, and faux locs.

Goddess Locs Protective Hairstyle | Raushan Murshid /

3. Updos

An updo keeps your hair up and away from the face and is considered as perhaps the most protective style of all, if you think about it! Keeping your hair up makes it less prone to breakage and damage, which helps your hair gain more of its strength. Perfect for special occasions or more formal events, an updo easily protects your hair from pulling, tugging and snagging.

Popular updo styles for natural hair include the top knot, braided bun, pineapple bun, space buns, bantu knots, the beehive, twisted buns and the high bun, among others.

Braided Bun Updo Protective Hairstyle | Dragon Images /

These are only some of the popular types of protective hairstyles for natural hair. Some others include wigs and using headwraps or scarves to protect the hair.

Looking for inspiring styles to try for your protective hairstyle rotation? Browse through our gallery of celebrities all stylishly sporting some of the most popular protective hairstyles to date!